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Dec 272011

This is a case of toy maker versus computer maker.  World-renowned toy manufacturer Hasbro has sued computer manufacturer ASUS over the latter’s use of “Transformer” and “Prime” in ASUS’s latest Android tablet called the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime.

Hasbro filed a complaint for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition against ASUS at a Los Angeles federal court in mid-December this year.  Hasbro is asking the court to compel ASUS to discontinue using “Transformer” in current and upcoming ASUS products.  Hasbro is also seeking monetary compensation for damages.  The company owns the trademark for “Transformers,” which is in plural form, and “Transformers Prime.”

Business As Usual

ASUS, however, seems not too worried about the Hasbro suit.  According to a report from Wireless and Mobile News, ASUS spokesperson Chang Wie-ming said that the company will go on with production of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime and that Hasbro’s lawsuit is not affecting production.

Chang was also quoted as saying that ASUS’s initial assessment of the case found no “patent” infringement.  Though, it’s possible that the translation of Chang’s statement may have been faulty, since Hasbro’s complaint is all about trademark infringement, not patent infringement.

Hasbro lawyer Barbara Finigan told reporters that the company will pursue companies–not excluding ASUS–that misappropriate Hasbro’s intellectual property for financial gain.  Finigan further explained that the company’s legal action against ASUS is in the best interests of Hasbro and its shareholders, since the Transformers brand is “an incredibly popular global brand which enjoys tremendous fan support and interest around the world.”

References to Transformers

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime is an Android tablet that morphs into a netbook/laptop when attached to an optional Mobile Docking Station, which includes a keyboard, trackpad, interface ports, and its own battery.  Thus, the Android tablet’s “Transformer” name suggests not just its ability for transforming but also seems to reference the popular Transformers action figures from Hasbro.  The association may work to ASUS’s disadvantage.

Plus, instead of calling its second-generation Android tablet the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer 2, ASUS decided to call it the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime.  So, now, instead of just one reference to Hasbro’s creations (i.e., “Transformers”), the new ASUS tablet has two.

In the Transformers saga, the leader of the Autobots (the good robots) is called Optimus Prime.  The Eee Pad Transformer Prime, for its part, is also a leader of some sort in the Android tablets market, since it is the world’s first-ever Android tablet to carry a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 Kal-El mobile processor.  Most other Android tablets are still using either single-core or dual-core mobile processors.

Hasbro also alleges that ASUS’s promotional ads use elements that “closely resembles imagery used in Transformers movies and video games, in particular evoking the Transformers home planet of Cybertron.”

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime is among the most pre-ordered Android tablets of the year, along with the Amazon Kindle Fire.  According to reports, the 32-gigabyte amethyst gray model of the Transformer Prime is more popular than the champagne model.  Check out more details and reviews of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime (32 GB, amethyst gray) and its optional Mobile Docking Station on Amazon.

Feature image uses photos courtesy of Hasbro and ASUS

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